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How to Keep Your Relationship Strong After Having a Baby

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong After Having a Baby

Becoming Parents, Together.

Welcoming a new baby into the world can be one of the most exciting and joyful times for a couple… and also one of the hardest. It’s unfortunately very common to have marriage problems after baby. As marriage counselors and family therapists we often see that most couples spend so much time and energy preparing for the birth, and how to take care of their newborn, they neglect to think about how they’ll keep their relationship strong after baby.

The relationship issues they experience after having a baby can therefore catch them by surprise, and feel all the more challenging to resolve in the stressful weeks and months following the birth of a child.

Just like we encourage couples getting married to get premarital counseling to prevent future problems, we encourage pregnant couples to proactively prepare their relationships for life-after baby. Today, we’re here to help provide some guidance for preventing relationship problems after having a baby, or for healing your relationship if it feels like things have gotten harder since becoming parents together.

Common Marriage Problems After Baby

Many couples report relationship issues after baby. Why? It’s because having a new child to care for together is uniquely stressful, and it requires you two to work together as a couple in a different way than you ever had before. Furthermore, you’re likely both feeling depleted, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed. Plus, when your baby needs something, it feels like an emergency!

In this emotional, hormonal, and circumstantial pressure-cooker frustrations flare, and resentments simmer, particularly when things are feeling out of balance between you and unspoken expectations are going unmet.

Many women report feeling disconnected from their husband after having a baby, often due to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, and because it’s difficult for their partners to know how to support them — physically, emotionally, and in terms of practical help. Men too can experience disconnection from their partners after the birth of a child, often due to feeling suddenly secondary to this new little being who needs so much care and attention.

Having a new baby requires couples to renegotiate boundaries, establish new ways of doing things, and enter brand new emotional territory together — all while sleep-deprived and stressed. It’s a a new chapter that involves a great deal of personal growth work, both for each partner individually, and as a couple. It’s no wonder that many couples struggle as they make their way forward, together.

Relationship Changes After Baby

In addition to the new challenges couples face around how to work as a team to care for their baby, they may temporarily lose many of the fun bonding activities they once shared. Many couples need to rebuild their sexual relationship (slowly!) after the birth of a child. It’s also generally much more difficult to spend time alone doing fun things than it was in the past. (You’ll find very few brand new parents at a weekend-music festival, for example).

However, strong couples learn how to find new things to enjoy together. While having time alone is still important (date night, anyone?) it’s extremely helpful to find ways of having fun and connecting around your parenting role too.

Building a Strong, Happy Family  — Together

The good news is that through preparation and communication, couples can not just avert marriage problems after baby but enter a new era of strength and satisfaction in their relationship. Yes, things change, but many couples report feeling more deeply committed to each other and their new life as a family together in the months and years after their first child.

The early stages of new parenthood require working out kinks, and learning how to work as a team in a whole new way. Having a happy marriage after parenthood means learning new ways of communicating, connecting, and enjoying life together.

Because this transition to parenthood can feel so challenging for many couples, we’re devoting a whole episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to supporting you through it. Marriage and family therapist and parenting coach Jessica Small will be sharing her tips for how to not just keep your relationship strong after baby, but set yourself up for success in the years to come.

Listen now to get Jessica’s advice for how to:

  • Prepare your relationship for a baby
  • Have crucial conversations that will help you work through issues as they come up
  • How to support each other emotionally after having a baby
  • Practice practical strategies to make things easier for both of you
  • Keep a compassionate mindset
  • Create a happy new chapter for your marriage

We hope that this information helps you successfully transition from being a happy couple to a happy family!

Sincerely,

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT and Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT

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How to Keep Your Relationship Strong, After Baby

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star,   “Blister in the Sun” (New Wave Lullabies Vol. 1,)

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Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a couples counselor, premarital counselor, therapist, and life coach who is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

In addition to working with private clients, Jessica leads our Online Postpartum Support Group.

Learn More About Jessica

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More Relationship Advice

When Do You Need Marriage Counseling? 8 Ways To Tell

When Do You Need Marriage Counseling? 8 Ways To Tell

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a marriage counselor, relationship coach, life coach and therapist with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

“Do We Need Marriage Counseling?”

Have you ever thought this to yourself? Maybe in the aftermath of a nasty fight, or another frustrating conversation? It’s also easy to talk yourself out of going to see a couples therapist, marriage counselor or relationship coach. It can be hard to tell what is normal relationship turbulence that will blow over on its own, and when more serious relationship problems are brewing under the surface that you may need professional help to resolve.

I think we can all agree that relationships take work. However, too often (particularly for long-term couples) it can be easy to take each other for granted, and pay attention to everything and everyone else besides each other. When relationships are set to autopilot for too long, over time they often go significantly off-course or sometimes even take a 90-degree nose-dive into the ground.

When your relationship is clearly in a significant crisis you know it’s time to get help and seek couples therapy or relationship coaching. However, if your relationship is not clearly in trouble, but rather is in the process of going off course, it can be hard to say, “This is it. We need to talk to a marriage counselor.” 

The problem is this: Relationships that are still mostly good are much easier to repair and restore than seriously damaged relationships where trust and goodwill have been lost. Marriage counselor and couples and family researcher Dr. John Gottman has found that, on average, divorcing couples waited for an average of six years after the onset of their relationship problems to get help for their marriage. Often, sadly, by the time they do, it’s too late. [Check out “How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage“]

On the other hand, pro-active, committed couples who care about their relationship are alert to the early warning signs that their relationships are headed in the wrong direction. The happiest, healthiest, and strongest couples are the ones that get into marriage counseling or couples therapy early, because they stop budding relationship problems in their tracks.

I think of relationship coaching or couples therapy as being proactive versus reactive. The one thing that I have found to be consistently true is that it is much easier to elevate an already healthy relationship than to try to save one that is floundering, There are a variety of reasons why relationship coaching would be beneficial but all of them support the goal of enhancing what you already have.

Here are eight early warning signs that your relationship is headed for trouble, and it’s time to talk to a marriage counselor:

You Struggle to Communicate With Your Partner

Communication is the number one reason people seek out marriage counseling or relationship coaching. People have different communications styles. Often couples have unintentional miscommunication because they have a fundamentally different way of communicating. While one person may be speaking from a place of logic and reasoning the other person may talk straight from the heart. If this has been true for you, take heart: Marriage counseling or relationship coaching is the perfect way to learn basic communication tools and identify where your specific breakdowns in communication are happening so that you can change your patterns, and start understanding each other again.

You Feel Disconnected From Your Partner

While we all may wish to return to the feeling of total connection and engagement we had with our partner when we first started dating, it can feel challenging to maintain that with the ever competing demands for our time and attention between kids, work, and  life in general. If you are noticing a feeling of disconnection between you and your partner, couples counseling or relationship coaching not only provides you with the specific strategies to regain your connection but also puts aside uninterrupted time to focus on the relationship, which is beneficial in and of itself. [Learn More: Empathy: The Key to Connection]

You Have Difficulty Managing Conflict

The ability to “fight fair” is learned. Healthy conflict management is a skill-set. Couples often need a roadmap to navigate their conflict so that they can avoid the roadblocks, understand the unforeseen curves and learn how to get themselves to the desired destination safely (we’re talking emotional safety). Learning how to have healthy, productive conflict is one of the most common goals I see in my couples counseling practice.

One Or Both Of You Is Uncertain About Your Commitment to the Relationship

It is common for me to see a couple where one person, or sometimes both people, are no longer certain about their commitment to the relationship. Through couples therapy or relationship coaching we assess the level of engagement and what it would take to either move towards full commitment to the relationship or begin the process of separation. This is generally a short-term process and at the end of it we either refocus on rebuilding the commitment or giving you the tools to separate in as healthy a way as possible.

You Need to Rebuild Trust

Whether there has been an affair or some other form of infidelity, couples often come to marriage counseling or relationship coaching with the hopes of rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust is a delicate process, requiring lots of support for both of you. Trust and emotional security are difficult to repair without the support of an expert couples counselor. However, when you work with a competent marriage counselor or relationships coach you can both learn how to manage anxiety, show each other you’re trust worthy, and rebuild your sense of emotional safety. [Learn more: How to Repair Your Relationship After Infidelity]

You Need Parenting Coaching

Maybe your relationship is solid but you’re having challenges with parenting. Many, many couples struggle to get on the same page around parenting. Parent coaching is an opportunity for you and your partner to get on the same page in your parenting relationship and to identify strategic, evidence-based practices to manage the difficulties you are having with your child(ren).

You’re Facing a Difficult Decision As a Couple

Many times, couples can get into “gridlock” around major life decisions. To have a baby or not, to move to a different town or not, to take a specific job or not, can all turn into binary black-and-white, either-or conflict between partners. Gridlock can be difficult to get through alone, but working through major life decisions with a great marriage counselor or couples therapist can help you find common ground. If you are coming up against a difficult decision and either you and your partner disagree or are struggling to talk about the decision altogether, relationship coaching will provide a safe space to begin talking through the options and giving you both the space to be heard and understood so that you can move forward, together. 

You’re Struggling With a Transition

Life transitions are hard. They often upend our world as we knew it and force us to adjust to a brand new set of circumstances. If you are going through some sort of challenging life transition, whether it be the birth of a child, job changes, moving, or empty nesting, relationship coaching is a perfect place to process the transition and learn the necessary skills to adjust and thrive in your new circumstances.

“But Who Has The Time For Marriage Counseling??”

Yes, for many couples, time can be the biggest obstacle to getting involved in marriage counseling, couples therapy, or relationship coaching. (The second is the myth that marriage counseling is expensive, which is addressed here.) But it is true that many busy, successful, professional couples — especially those with families — can struggle to get the planets to align to both be in the same place at the same time for couples counseling. What’s the answer? Virtual relationship coaching.

 

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Make it Work, With Online Relationship Coaching

If you are living a full life without an excess of time, then virtual coaching is.a perfect way for you to address the challenges in your relationship now before your find yourself in a full-blown crisis. Virtual relationship coaching, aka, meeting for marriage counseling or couples therapy by online video, is not just a fantastic option for busy couples but also sometimes the only way to make it work. This is especially true if:

You Need Relationship Coaching But Are Living Abroad

There are several reasons why relationship coaching is a great option for people that live abroad. It can often be challenging to find access to mental health professionals in other countries. However, having the ability to do virtual relationship coaching internationally brings a highly trained couples coach right to your door. Living abroad can also be isolating. Coaching will provide you with additional support and also help you identify how you can build a support system within your new community, both individually and as a couple.

You Need Couples Counseling in a Long-Distance Relationship 

If you and your partner live in different towns, states, countries and aren’t in the same place often, virtual coaching for long-distance relationships may truly be your only option to get help for your relationship. It is common for me to work with a long-distance couple via a three-way video conference. Don’t think that being in a long distance relationship rules you out from getting help. [Listen to “How to Make Long Distance Work” on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for some great advice about how to have a fantastic long-distance relationship].

I hope this information helps you decide if you need marriage counseling, and if so, about all your options for getting your relationship the help it deserves.

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

Do Long Distance Relationships Work?

Do Long Distance Relationships Work?

The Challenges of Long Distance Relationships… And How to Make Them Work

Imagine missing your partner to the point where you feel your heart about to explode.  You need to connect to the person you love, to feel their physical presence, and experience their love and affection.  Now imagine that your partner that you miss so much does not live in the same city as you do.  Maybe your partner is states, countries, or even continents away.  How do you maintain your love for your partner when you cannot physically see them nearly as often as you’d love to?  

I love marriage counseling and relationship coaching, but it wasn’t until I started doing online couples counseling that I was led to working with a new, interesting demographic – the long-distance relationship.  Sometimes our globalized world requires a partner to move away from a loved one to keep a job, or a loved one who is a member of the military may be deployed for months or even years at a time.  These types of relationships can be very difficult to navigate for both partners, but understanding some of the unique challenges of long-distance relationships can give couples a better chance to weather the storms and come through the separation strong and connected.

The most obvious and painful part of long-distance relationships is the most obvious – you do not get to physically see or be with your partner on a regular basis, if at all.  Physical connection and time spent with each other is a crucial part of any relationship.  With the best case scenario, couples in this situation would work to see each other physically as much as they can.  But what if these couples can’t see each other, be it for financial or logistical reasons?  That sort of separation can cause loneliness and emotional turmoil for a couple that can turn toxic very quickly, leading to possible breakups and affairs.  Couples in long-distance relationships always have to be on the lookout for how they feel in the moment, as that lack of physical connection can make the temptation to stray even more intense.

What can a long-distance couple do to keep their connection alive and vibrant?

  1. Open Communication: Making it a commitment to see each other physically when possible can work, but the key truly lies with honest emotional communication.  Learning how to communicate emotions honestly, without criticism or defensiveness, can help bridge the gap that lies between these couples.  
  2. Listening, With All Your Heart: That being said, it’s not just about sharing how you feel to your partner –  you need to be able to listen to each other without trying to “fix” how the other feels.  Attachment literature and research has shown that feeling heard when you share, without being judged or disregarded, can help build attachment bonds.  In other words, knowing that your partner is truly listening to your emotions and pain without judgment will bring you closer to that partner, building the connection and closeness that all healthy relationships have.  
  3. Practicing Empathy and Validation: Imagine how you’ll feel when you share your pain with your partner, and the person you love validates that pain and holds you close, even if you’re a continent away.  There’s nothing like it, and through practicing attachment-style communication (sharing and listening without judgment) you won’t just learn to hear your partner.  You’ll learn to empathize with your partner, to feel your partner’s emotion as your own.  The connection that can be built at that point can be extraordinary!

Your partner is thousands of miles away, and you miss them so much.  But the avenues of communication must be open to building connection during this separation.  If you can’t see each other physically, make sure you’re either talking or communicating with your partner as much as you can.  When you do talk to each other, be emotionally honest and listen to each other without judgment.  The conversations may be painful at times, but they will be true, and that’s an experience that couples who even live together often don’t have.  

When you know your partner loves you, can share with you, and can listen to you, your connection and bond will be that much stronger when the both of you are finally physically together again.  

Seth Bender, M.A., LMFTC

Get The Scoop on Online Counseling and Coaching

Get The Scoop on Online Counseling and Coaching

Online growth work: Because your life is too big to put in a box.

Our online coaching clients are high-achieving, vibrant people living full and active lives. They are go-getters, on a quest to bring out the best in themselves, their relationships, their careers, and in the world around them. They want to live at their highest potential. Our job is to support them on their amazing journey — on their terms and on their time. And in service to our clients we’ve been carried to some interesting places!

Our online clients are often buzzing around the world. I’ve personally had coaching sessions with people who were sitting on a beach watching the waves, in a gorgeous verdant park in California, overlooking a volcano in Guatemala, lounging around a pool in Mexico, on a balcony overlooking Manhattan at night, sipping coffee in a Spanish plaza, and once even on a chair lift! One of my colleagues recently shared that she had an incredibly powerful session with a person who was sitting on a dock at sunset, watching dolphins frolic in the water. Our clients are in the process of creating lives without limits, so that’s where we meet them.

All Your Questions About Online Counseling or Online Coaching, Answered.

Online counseling and coaching is taking off in a major way. When I started doing it back in 2010, it was a rarity. I was pleased to recently learn that there is now actually a podcast all about counseling and coaching online: The Online Counseling Podcast, with Clay Cockrell.

When he asked me to share my experiences with online counseling, of course I was honored. You can listen in on our conversation and learn some new things about online counseling like:

  • What kinds of people does online counseling or coaching work really well for?
  • What are the advantages of bringing your growth work online?
  • When is online marriage counseling actually NOT a good idea?
  • What kinds of personal work should you AVOID doing online?
  • What are some essential questions to be mindful of when you’re looking for an online therapist or coach?
  • What kinds of approaches work really well in an online format, and which don’t?

I answer all these questions (and many more!) during my interview with Clay. If you are considering exploring online counseling or coaching, I hope you check it out! Click here to listen now:

The Online Counseling Podcast, with Clay Cockrell and Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

xo, Lisa

online counseling online coaching online marriage counseling podcast with dr lisa marie bobby and clay cockrelll

 

 

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